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What is multilingual SEO?

What is multilingual SEO?

Put simply, multilingual SEO is the important process of optimising your content for different languages in different locations and/or markets.

For example: You have an e-commerce store and you sell to different countries. To optimise your sales in the Netherlands, you opted to translate your content into Dutch and build a Netherlands-based website. Resulting in two different websites but with the same content on each.

Why is multilingual SEO important?

Ideally, everyone wants their website to be visible on Google. In a standard SEO setting, you get to optimise your content to one language — the ‘primary’ language showing on your website.

However, eventually you will want to break into a new market, so you will target different countries and locations. Sometimes, the audience might have related languages with some elements of differences.

When you target this audience individually, it is easier to optimize content and offer what they want. One of these differences is the language they speak. If your website is built with different languages, you will be at an advantage in two ways, you will:

  • Increase your potential reach, visibility, and audience base
  • Boost your chances of attaining a better ranking for a particular region, and/or a particular language

5 tips that will improve your Multilingual SEO

1. Make use of dedicated URLs  

The most significant challenge with multilingual SEO is to duplicate content, without incurring penalties like low ranking, or total removal of contents from Google.

To avoid these penalties, it is strongly advised, by Google, to use language indicators in the URLs. For instance, for a website like “www.iwritearticles.com”, to be optimised for France, it should become “www.iwritearticles.com/fr”.

2. Use hreflang Tags

Apart from the previous language indicators, Google also recommends the use of hreflang attributes. This helps to clearly indicate the language of the page, and which country it is intended for.

You can insert these hreflang tags in the header part of the page through the sitemap. For example, if we want to make an English page readable for people in France, the hreflang tag could be: <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-fr” href=”http://example.com/fr/” />

3. Use one language per page

You may want to translate some parts of a page while not translating other sections of the original copy. However, different languages on the same page could reduce the user experience. If a user understands the first page, but then gets lost in the next section, it might lead to your content loosing credibility, and your site loosing reader engagement as they become uninterested.

4. Ensure your website loads well and quickly

One of best things you can do for your multilingual SEO campaign, and for good SEO in general, is to ensure your website loads well and fast. Gone are those days when website speed didn’t contribute to Google ranking. Furthermore, many users will simply get bored of waiting and move on. If your website loads quickly, you will get better results in both traffic and visibility.

5. Translate your metadata

When you are creating a website with different languages, you should ensure that the metadata is also translated. Metadata should be seen as an integral part of the copy; translating it consistently will improve your ranking on Google, both generally, and specifically in the new market you are targeting.

In conclusion

Multilingual SEO is vital to the SEO efforts of people looking to break into different countries and regions. It makes content more engaging, improves visibility in your target location, and leads to more prospects and conversions.

Multilingual SEO is also part of a larger process of website localisation. Find out more!

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